Students react to arrests, media blitz in Pott sexual assault case

April 13, 2013 — by Cristina Curcelli, Sarah Finley, Samuel Liu, and Karen Sung
Student Reaction

“They want this story because it [helps] the case that they are trying to make about our society's rape culture ... which is fair, because we do have a problem with that,"  senior Kristen Zung said. "But to wait outside our campus and harass the school for their purposes is gross. It's been seven months, and we're still healing.”

Students driving to school on April 12 found an unusual sight — news vans from ABC, CBS and Fox, parked just outside the school attempting to interview students. Just the night before, on April 11, Audrie Pott’s family went public with the circumstances surrounding Pott’s suicide last September. 

Students driving to school on April 12 found an unusual sight — news vans from ABC, CBS and Fox, parked just outside the school attempting to interview students. Just the night before, on April 11, Audrie Pott’s family went public with the circumstances surrounding Pott’s suicide last September. 

The announcement of the three arrests in the case gained the attention of national media. Two of the boys are sophomores who attend Saratoga High, while the third sophomore now goes to Christopher High in Gilroy. The story was front page on Google News, the San Jose Mercury News, Yahoo News and several other major news outlets.
Like many students, senior David Zarrin felt that the school’s reputation was being hurt by the attention. 
“Three people are responsible for the recent event that surfaced — no more, no less,” Zarrin posted on his Facebook wall. “For those deriding the whole city of Saratoga, or Saratoga High School for recent events, remember who is actually responsible … this community is no less amazing than it was before.”
Even so, students said the attention also had its benefits. According to reports, the Pott family, in publicizing their story, is attempting to spur legislation that would target cyberbullying. The family believes it was “the use of electronic media to disseminate images that humiliate and in this case drove their daughter to take her life.” 
There will be a news conference Monday detailing the family’s goals. 
“I thought the media attention was good because it shows the country what can happen in the blink of an eye,” junior Kush Maheshwari said.  “If anything, it brings light to these happenings and may send a message to everyone.”
However, several students thought that details in the initial stories were incorrect or exaggerated. Some versions of the stories in the national media talked about a “viral photo” of Pott, though none of the more than the two dozen students The Falcon has spoken to ever saw any such photo. At this point, it is unclear to what extent the photo was circulated through social media. 
Senior Kristen Zung said the media was incorrectly portraying Pott.
“I think she had so many personal struggles even before the tragic party occurred, and to say that she died only because of harassment is a dishonor to her name,” Zung said. “They want this story because it [helps] the case that they are trying to make about our society's rape culture … which is fair, because we do have a problem with that. 
“But to wait outside our campus and harass the school for their purposes is gross,” Zung said. “It's been seven months, and we're still healing.”
Victims of sexual assault are not ordinarily identified, but Pott family requested that her name and photo be associated with the case so as to prevent any similar crimes in the future.
The boys, whose names are being withheld because they are juveniles, are said to have sexually assaulted Pott at a unsupervised house party in September while Pott was unconscious after consuming a mix of Gatorade and alcohol, according to the San Jose Mercury News. 
They then allegedly proceeded to take pictures of her while she was unconscious and posted photos to social networking sites. Pott committed suicide eight days later on Sept. 10. 
The Pott family is hoping authorities will try them as adults.
According to CBS, the Pott family is looking to sue as many as 10 high school students and families.
Students on campus continue to struggle with the situation. Many students share a sense of anger and desire to improve the campus culture. 
“Things have got to change,” junior class president Anup Kar said. “Students need to start helping other students. Someone needs to step up, and it can’t just be the same people. It has to be every single student on our campus, making an effort to make our campus a better safer place.” 
 
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